15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B (2)

Today’s readings remind us that we, like the apostles and prophets, have been chosen and sent into the world to share the Gospel. One way in which we share the Gospel is through spiritual poverty, which puts the goods of this world into perspective.

In today’s First Reading the prophet Amos is accused by the priest in charge of the shrine at Bethel of prophesying as a scam to get some food. Amos responds that he owned a flock and sycamore trees: he had property and possessions and was not a beggar being creative in order to get some food. Amos was a prophet because the Lord chose him and sent him to prophesy, and, like the Twelve in the Gospel today, being a prophet doesn’t involve being well equipped or focused on making a living. Amos was chosen to be a prophet and leave his possessions behind. He may have been mistakable for a beggar, but he had everything he needed to accomplish his mission.

In today’s Second Reading St. Paul teaches us that we were not chosen to become rich in the material sense of the term, but to be holy and without blameless before God the Father, thanks to Our Lord. Only a worldly person sees a holy person as poor just because they are not swayed or burdened by material well-being. The Lord lavishes spiritual treasures upon the holy: the second chance of the Redemption after the Fall, the call to become his adopted children, forgiveness for our sins, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In choosing us he has also revealed his plan of salvation and our part in it. When we accept his calling we receive all these treasures and the opportunity to help others to receive them too.

In today’s Gospel Our Lord teaches the Twelve that to be an apostle means to give a Gospel example in order to foster a more effective proclamation. One example is poverty. Today he tells them to take what they need, but to keep it simple. Our testimony of Gospel simplicity in the things we use is also a way we evangelize. We live this poverty in order to fulfill our mission as apostles.

This Gospel poverty also helps us to see the true treasure we possess, a treasure so eloquently expressed today in the Second Reading by St. Paul. Holiness is the ultimate happiness, even if it seems tough at times, and a great peace comes from having our sins forgiven, making us blameless before Our Heavenly Father. Let’s thank Our Lord today for all the spiritual wealth he has lavished upon us, and ask him to show us, in the light of those spiritual treasures, what things we really need, what things we don’t, and how we can best share them with others.

We can easily get bogged down by our creature comforts, if we let them. What’s something you could give up for a few hours, a day, or a week to practice voluntary Gospel poverty? Consider the one material thing you think you couldn’t live without and try living without it for as long as your resilience permits. Our sacrifices are just as fruitful as our prayers.

Readings: Amos 7:12–15; Psalm 85:9–14; Ephesians 1:3–14; Mark 6:7–13. See also 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.